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The Importance of Passwords

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I grew up around computers.  When I was a kid, art projects were made using iMac software as often as crayons and paper.  And while I do remember having to use Encarta Encyclopedia on CD for research projects before the dawn of Wikipedia and Google Scholar, the internet has really always been a part of my life.  As someone who grew up around computers, one would imagine I had a pretty good grasp on the fundamentals of cybersecurity.

Unfortunately, bad habits can set in at any age if they are not corrected, and cybersecurity is no exception.  Let’s take an example I think everyone is familiar with: passwords.  Now if you’re anything like me, you’ve got multiple devices in your life to manage, each of which has multiple accounts to access, and that means a lot of passwords to keep track of.  The easiest way to solve this problem is to just use the same password for everything, and have it be an easy password to remember.  But from a cybersecurity standpoint, this plan is absolutely terrible.  

Take a second and look at this list of the most popular passwords from 2015.  Don’t worry, I’ll wait.  All done?  Great.  Now did any of those look familiar?  I hate to break it to you, but if your password was on that list, then none of your data are safe.  There are 25 passwords on that list, so any person could easily try all of them in under 5 minutes.  A computer could guess all of those passwords in a fraction of a second.  And if someone were to use multiple computers running in parallel?  Well the experts say that the best systems in the world can make a trillion guesses a second.

Just to put that in perspective for you, a trillion guesses a second is like guessing every word in the 12 volume Oxford English Dictionary, then guessing every possible combination of 2 words, and then having enough time leftover in the single second to do the whole operation about 19 more times.  

To say that I was a little freaked out when I learned this information would be a bit of an understatement.  I had visions of hackers gaining access to all my personal emails, or to all the project files on my work computer.  Of course I am not the keeper of great national secrets, so I’m not exactly a high profile target.  But I do have access to sensitive company information, and this is true for almost every employee at a company. A cybersecurity breach could spell disaster for a company’s reputation, not to mention the monetary cost of some nefarious person gaining access to sensitive information.

The truth of the matter is that every member of a team has a role to play in protecting everyone else from cyber crime.  A company’s system is only as strong as the weakest password, which makes it essential for every company member to be well versed in the basic habits and strategies of cybersecurity.  We’re all on the front line, and we all want to keep our data safe.

No matter what their role, getting every employee on the same page when it comes to cybersecurity is exactly the purpose of our Cybersecurity Fundamentals course.  Covering not only how to create the strongest passwords, but also how to avoid phishing emails and prevent office tailgating, Cybersecurity Fundamentals is an indispensable resource for getting each and every employee at your company to protect not only their data, but also your reputation.